Best Used By….

Food often comes with a label that says a product is “Best Used By” a certain date. We take the label for granted on many food products, but everything has a “best used by” date even if it does not come with a label. Anyone who has been married and later divorced knows that relationships often have a “best used by” date. Everything does, but some things—including relationships—can extend the date when that’s worth doing. Old automobiles can be restored and are often worth a great deal more money than when they were new. Classic cars are an example. Back . . . → Read More: Best Used By….

Future History

I borrow my title from one of my favorite science fiction authors, Robert Heinlein, whose books captivated me during my adolescence. A number of them have been made into movies (including The Puppet Masters, Starship Troopers, and . . . → Read More: Future History

Winter of Our Discontent

I have borrowed the title of this blog from Shakespeare’s play, Richard III. Richard III was not a nice man, although the real Richard was probably not as evil as Shakespeare and others have made him out to be. He was the last king of England to actually lead his troops into battle and died in the Battle of Bosworth Field. Shakespeare portrays him as evil, and he may well have been. Medieval kings had a tendency to be corrupt and cruel, and someone I have quoted before, Lord Acton, famously said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts . . . → Read More: Winter of Our Discontent

Who Reads?

In some ways, a picture really is worth a thousand words. A picture can often tell a story or communicate feelings that would take a thousand words to tell. If you are old enough to remember the 9/11 attacks, you doubtless remember the video of the buildings on fire and smoking, and people jumping to their deaths to avoid being burned alive. That video has more emotional impact than any of the stories you might have read about it. Reading is more cognitive: we understand more fully. Video is more visceral: we feel more.

When I was an undergraduate . . . → Read More: Who Reads?

March of Time

When we’re young, time seems to creep at a petty pace, but the passage of time accelerates as it goes by. When I was young, I had the sense that a week was a long time, and summer vacations lasted for ever. Now, days and weeks gallop by, and even months pass quickly. When I first read Andrew Marvell’s plea To His Coy Mistress, I didn’t fully understand his impatience. At this point, even without a mistress, I can hear Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near. When I was young, I wanted time to pass quickly so that I could grow . . . → Read More: March of Time

Ask Your Doctor….

If you watch any commercial television, you have surely noticed how much of the advertising is for prescription drugs If you think that the advertising for prescription medication has increased over the past few years, you’re correct. Such advertising is legal in only four countries, with the U.S. being one of the four. Marketing of pharmaceutical products has been “big business” for a long time, of course. Companies making such products trained an army of sales representatives to take samples around to physicians and others responsible for writing the prescriptions.

They also initiated a major lobbying effort to persuade . . . → Read More: Ask Your Doctor….

Ignorance Is Bliss

An English poet, Thomas Grey, ended his 1742 poem, Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College, with what has become a well-known aphorism: “where ignorance is bliss, / ‘Tis folly to be wise.” The part that’s quoted most often is, “Ignorance is bliss.” Considering ignorance bliss has a long history. One of the central stories of both Judaism and Christianity is Eve’s being tempted by Satan to eat the fruit of knowledge and then persuading Adam to do the same.

The theme has been important to me for a long time. The title of my 1974 Ph.D. dissertation . . . → Read More: Ignorance Is Bliss

Another Brick in the Wall

I have borrowed the title for this blog from a song by . . . → Read More: Another Brick in the Wall

Customer Service

Although the impetus for this blog was a “customer service” call I experienced with the “help” available at Charter/Spectrum when my cable was out, most everything here applies to all companies that assume artificial intelligence can serve customers as well a breathing, thinking, human being. Eventually, my problem was solved—but not before I developed a deep and abiding hatred for Charter/Spectrum in spite of a long history of good service from the human technicians who work for the company. Here’s the story:

I was at home nursing a very sore back (which probably reduced my tolerance for the stupidity . . . → Read More: Customer Service

2018 Ready or Not

Last year, 2017, ended not with a bang, but a whimper. While how the current year, 2018, will end is still unknown, the world in general and the U.S. in particular, are not on a good trajectory. While some countries are doing reasonably well, most are not. Even in the States, the microcosm of individuals and places doing well, doesn’t change the macrocosm. I am not worried about the planet as a whole. Earth has survived mass extinctions in the past, and life has continued. The life forms, however, changed. It is as though the planet was saying, “Well that . . . → Read More: 2018 Ready or Not